BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS: A WELL BEHAVED WOMAN

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By now you know I am obsessed with historical fiction especially when the book concerns “real” people.  When this exceptionally written book came into my consciousness I knew it would be one I would not only enjoy but would devour and, of course, would want to share with you. I was correct in that assumption.  (As usual, I recommend The Book Stall my Independent Bookseller, as your source when purchasing your books.)

The protagonist is none other than Alva Vanderbilt who married into one of the wealthiest, if not THE wealthiest at the time, American dynasties.  Wealth was new to Alva and the story tells us of a world known to very few.  The Astor’s ruled New York Society, especially their Matriarch, Caroline.  Snubbed by Mrs. Astor, Alva was determined to make her place, along with her husband, William, and the rest of the Vanderbilt family to reach the top of the Gilded Age social scene.  And not only did she do exactly that but did it with grace and class  Fowler takes us into this rarified world via, their exquisite homes, think Marble House (The Biltmore is briefly mentioned), the many homes in New York City.  I particularly enjoyed Alva’s forays into every detail of her many homes and her participation with the noted architect, Richard Hunt, in planning the architecture and each and every phase of the construction of the mansions and the interiors from paint colors, fabrics, to furniture….everything!  Having literally millions to spend she thought out every possible item in her homes and became the personification of elegance of her era.

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Alva Vanderbilt

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William Vanderbilt

Marble House in Newport, Rhode Island

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A couple of the interiors …

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Living in a strained marriage, (I’m not doing spoilers here, if you know the background of the era you know of the scandals) Alva made herself a pilar of New York, Newport, Paris and London society in lifestyle including her Charles Frederick Worth wardrobe (you know I enjoyed those descriptions!), the exquisite entertaining….balls, formal dinners…highlighting the developing of the Arts in New York City, making sure her children were exposed to the best of educations, associating with the “right” people (including Oliver Belmont) while respecting everyone no matter their social status…which I greatly admired.  She was always a philanthropist and became very involved in women’s suffrage.  In many ways she reminds me of our own Bertha Palmer as well as others of her time. It gives us details of the women (or The woman, Alva) behind the wealth which was always in the hands of their husbands, fathers, guardians. Fowler’s eye for detail parallels that of Alva’s…her research is impeccable.  Read it you will be transfixed!

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A couple of books to give you thoughts on the food of the time…

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I’m including a recipe for Beef Wellington, which happens to a favorite of mine to serve at special dinner parties.  This recipe is from Epicurious.com

 

BEEF WELLINGTON

FROM EPICURIOUS.COM

INGREDIENTS

    • a 3 1/2-pound fillet of beef tied with thin sheets of larding fat at room temperature
    • 3/4 pound mushrooms, chopped fine
    • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1/2 pound pâté de foie gras (available at specialty foods shops) at room temperature
    • 1 pound puff paste or thawed frozen puff pastry plus additional for garnish if desired
    • N/A frozen puff pastry
    • 1 large egg white beaten
    • an egg wash made by beating 1 large egg yolk with 1 teaspoon of water
    • 1/2 cup Sercial Madeira
    • 2 teaspoons arrowroot dissolved in 1 teaspoon cold water
    • 1 teaspoon water
    • 1/2 cup beef broth
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped black truffles (available at specialty food shops) if desired
    • watercress for garnish if desired

PREPARATION

    1. In a roasting pan roast the beef in the middle of a preheated 400°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the thermometer registers 120°F. Let the fillet cool completely and discard the larding fat and the strings. Skim the fat from the pan juices and reserve the pan juices.
    2. In a heavy skillet cook the mushrooms in the butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until all the liquid they give off is evaporated and the mixture is dry, season them with salt and pepper, and let them cool completely. Spread the fillet evenly with the pâté de foie gras, covering the top and sides, and spread the mushrooms evenly over the pâté de foie gras. On a floured surface roll 1 pound of the puff paste into a rectangle about 20- by 12- inches, or large enough to enclose the fillet completely, invert the coated fillet carefully under the middle of the dough, and fold up the long sides of the dough to enclose the fillet brushing the edges of the dough with some of the egg white to seal them. Fold ends of the dough over the fillet and seal them with the remaining egg white. Transfer the fillet, seam side down to a jelly-roll pan or shallow roasting pan and brush the dough with some of the egg wash. Roll out the additional dough and cut the shapes with decorative cutters. Arrange the cutouts on the dough decoratively, brush them with the remaining egg wash, and chill the fillet for at least 1 hour and up to 2 hours. Bake the fillet in the middle of a preheated 400°F oven for 30 minutes, reduce the heat to 350°, and bake the fillet for 5 to 10 minutes more, or until the meat thermometer registers 130°F. for medium-rare meat and the pastry is cooked through. Let the fillet stand for 15 minutes.
    3. In a saucepan boil the reserved pan juices and the Madeira until the mixture is reduced by one fourth. Add the arrowroot mixture, the broth, the truffles, and salt and pepper to taste and cook the sauce over moderate heat, stirring, being careful not to let it boil, for 5 minutes, or until it is thickened. Loosen the fillet from the jelly-roll pan, transfer it with two spatulas to a heated platter, and garnish it with watercress. Serve the fillet, cut into 3/4-inch-thick slices, with the sauce.

Serves 8.

THE nenasnotes BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS POSTS ARE MADE POSSIBLE BY AN ANONYMOUS SPONSOR.  PLEASE CONTACT ME AT nenasnotes1@gmail.com FOR SPONSORSHIP INFORMATION 

Photos are from Pinterest credits unknown. 
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FASHION NOW: DENIM ALWAYS CLASSIC ALWAYS NEW

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Early last year I was asked by Sally Schwartz, Founder/Owner of Randolph Street Market  which is celebrating its sixteenth year in 2019, to do two monthly exclusive posts for the RSM newsletter she has given me permission to share some of them with you in 2019, starting with DENIM.  I have added a few more photos to my original piece.  Enjoy!

nenasnotes Fashion Trends Exclusively for The Randolph Street Market reprinted with Sally Schwartz permission.  All photos from Pinterest photo credits unknown.

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A quote from FIT’s  DENIM: Fashion’s Frontier, the cover is seen in the photo above.

“Denim is one of the world’s favorite fabrics, and today it accounts for the largest segment of the clothing industry. The market for jeans alone is worth over 55 billion dollars. Accompanying a recent exhibition at the Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, this handsome book explores the history of denim and examines the continually evolving relationship between it and high fashion.

Prized for its durability and strength, denim began as an ideal fabric for workwear, most famously in the clothing produced by Levi Strauss & Co. for fortune hunters during the 19th-century California gold rush. Over the past 160 years, however, film, television, and advertising have helped transform denim into a symbol of youth, rebellion and sex. The fashion industry has also played a large role in the expansion of denim into casual and couture clothing.”

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Quite a transition from it’s lowly beginnings as overalls worn by the men and woman seeking their fortunes in the Gold Rush of the latter part of the 19th Century. Levi Strauss saw the need for a sturdy fabric…denim…and sturdy closers to hold the fabric in place…thus “jeans” were born, first in the form of overalls.

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Seeking their fortunes….then…

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And now….

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In my opinion, in my youth, denim was only worn to garden, maybe go grocery shopping but never seen as a fashion item until the “Hippie Movement” of the 1960’s. Everyone, at the time, thought that it was the beginning of everyone wearing “uniforms” that uniform being traditional jeans. This was not the case, think embellishments, think the “flower child” and individuality came to the forefront and quite frankly has never looked back. It might be “uniform” but only the fabric, not the fashion. People want acceptance but with their own twist. For years I would think….denim is dead instead of long live denim!

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Obviously the latter is the case and it just gets stronger and more trend worthy. Take for example the entire denim collection Karl Lagerfeld did for Chanel in 1996.
He is quoted as saying Mlle Chanel thought Mini skirts were dreadful as was denim….there you have it…the rest as they say is fashion history (or fashion myth!)

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When I worked with Victoria Beckham, in 2008, she was only doing sunglasses and we introduced her jeans which became status symbols so much so that I “paid” our models in the jeans they wore for the personal appearance, I must admit a rather clever marketing ploy on my part…gorgeous young models wearing the product out and about didn’t hurt sales!!!! The jeans all had embroidered stars on the back hip pocket….the item of the season. Her talent has blossomed and I might add, she was a dream to work with, loved her.

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8015A753-A7E5-444C-BC06-9EB2615EE1D1Claire McCardell’s popover dress of 1942 featured in the FIT Denim exhibition and book

6B9FF1DB-2B2A-4C5A-A565-63787C589C55“Rosie the Riveter” interpretation 1942-1945 also featured in the FIT Denim exhibition and book.

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Junya Wataniabe dress 2002 (detail is on cover of the FIT exhibition book)

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From the creativity of the Antwerp designers 2005

Vivianne Westwood’s denim interpretations…

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John Galliano for Dior 2002…

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And wearing denim 2009…

0FB84D00-8392-46CB-B67C-0A9A15D4FAA4Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen 2016.

Celebrities have always wore denim….

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Then….Marilyn Monroe in the film The Misfits

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Now…Rihanna out and about.

The 2018 Collections featured denim in its many guises…..

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Randolph Street Market
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Randolph Street MarketBBBA72AF-3542-4B79-A639-4E9D59C2E535The King of American sportswear, Ralph Lauren, at his beginnings and at the finale of his extraordinary 50th anniversary extravaganza 2018….I’m obsessed with the tuxedo jacket and jeans…what could be more modern….

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Or perhaps a patchwork quilt…..the possibilities of working with “blue jeans” is obviously endless…I can hardly wait to see what our designing geniuses will create in future collections with what was considered “workman’s” cloth…..stay tuned….

 

FASHION FOREVER: THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF PEARLS

 

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I have always been enamored with pearls and their association with fashion but there is so much more to them…the history is fascinating…from natural pearls to cultured, from Haute Couture, to Opera, to Royalty, to Art, to Romance, and on and on….whether a single strand or a extravagant bib the pearl has so many interpretations….let’s look at some.

The natural pearl is harvested by mostly female ame pearl divers in Japan

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Natural pearls…

”Cultured pearls are real, genuine pearls that are formed inside a living oyster with human intervention. When a nucleus is surgically implanted in the oyster’s flesh, the oyster recognises it as an irritant and begins to coat it with smooth layers of nacre. Over time, the growing pearl gets completely covered with the beautiful iridescent substance we call nacre, or mother-of-pearl. All pearls sold today are cultured pearls, with the exception of vintage estate jewellery and heirloom pieces that are more than 80 years old.“

“Natural pearls, on the other hand, are formed naturally by free-range “wild” oysters living at sea without any encouragement from humans. When a natural irritant such as a fragment of shell, a scale or a parasite becomes lodged inside an oyster or mollusk, it gets coated with layer upon layer of nacre. Contrary to popular belief, grains of sand do not form pearls. If sand were enough of an irritant, our ocean floors would be littered with millions of natural pearls! Natural pearls are actually very rare, mostly because pearl-producing species of mollusks were nearly hunted to extinction with most natural beds of pearl-bearing oysters depleted by over-harvesting in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, natural pearls are extremely rare. Only 1 in about 10,000 wild oysters will yield a pearl and of those, only a small percentage achieve the size, shape and colour desirable to the jewellery industry.” Source: Raw Pearls

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Kokichi Mikimoto

“Mikimoto learned that Akoya oysters produced the best pearls. He explored methods of introducing a particle into the flesh of the oyster to stimulate secretions of “nacre” that build up in hundreds of thousands of layers, creating a lustrous pearl. He overcame many failed experiments and challenges of nature, from oyster-eating octopi to a disastrous “red tide” of bacteria that threatened the survival of his oyster beds.” Be sure to go the Mikimoto website, linked here, for the extraordinary story of the originator of the cultured pearl. Source: Mikimoto Pearls

Pearls in history….

A mosaic….

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Queen Elizabeth I

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Whoopi Goldberg hosting the Oscars several years ago…gowned as Queen Elizabeth I

Vermeer’s The Girl With The Pearl Earring

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A bejeweled  Maharajah

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Georges Bizet’s Les Pecheurs de Perles, The Pearl Fishers….one of my favorite opera’s, of course the highlight, the duet, it is definitely my favorite operatic piece!! https://operaq.com.au/news/the-pearlfishers-duet/

Queen Victoria…

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Mata Hari probably wearing Paul Poiret….

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A couple of showgirls in costume…..

Of course, Gabrielle Chanel…..always mixing real and faux

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Lagerfeld for Chanel….love these!!!

 

I’m obsessed with this look from the 1930’s

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As well as this one…

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The iconic Audrey Hepburn in the iconic black dress and pearls in Breakfast at Tiffany’s

First Ladies and their “pearls”….cultured and faux….

Diana….

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Liz with Queen Mary’s beyond exquisite La Peregrina pearl sold at auction for $11.8 million

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Liz with more pearls…..

Marie Antoinette’s pear and diamond pendant sold at auction for $32 million

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Something in a tiara perhaps from the English Crown Jewels….0371ED77-015F-4DBF-A285-08AA77FBA8DB

Gloria Vanderbilt at home…

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The modernity of this classic on Rihanna…

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Masses of pearls

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The elegant embroidery of Lasage for a Haute Couture piece…

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Nena in a treasured Adolfo jacket with wide pearl beading around neck, down the front of the jacket and on the cuffs…the beading,  Photo courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago

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A few more books, one non-fiction the others fiction.

 

All photos, unless otherwise noted, from Pinterest photo credits unknown.

BOOKNOTES: THE MASTERPIECE

THIS REVIEW IS POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 11th A DAY WE MUST NEVER FORGET. I DEDICATE IT TO THOSE WHO PERISHED, THE FIRST RESPONDERS AND THOSE OF US WHO REMAIN TO HONOR THEIR MEMORY.  WE ARE A VERY STRONG COUNTRY AND WE KNOW WE ARE SURVIVORS, NEW YORK CITY IS OUR BEACON OF LIGHT AND THIS STORY TELLS THE REBIRTH, OF TIME LONG GONE, OF AN EXQUISITE STRUCTURE THAT HAS SURVIVED DESPITE ALL ODDS, JUST LIKE ALL OF US!

563325A4-17ED-4593-B696-30915C471F00CB4C5E58-A3BF-4823-BD84-BA887661BA67                               Fiona Davis photograph by Kristen Jensen.

Having read The Dollhouse and The Address, both of which I absolutely loved, I didn’t want them to end, I waited with baited breath for Fiona Davis’ next book, The Masterpiece, to arrive.  I most certainly wasn’t disappointed  This time, like both of her other books, the story takes place in a landmark building in New York, the Grand Central Terminal.

It is the story, told in two time periods (seems to a trend in many of the novels I have been reading, wasn’t a fan, but am adjusting to them…this one definitely works!), of the art school housed in the Grand Central Terminal in New York, one of my favorite NYC structures.  You know how much I love historical fiction…this is a fascinating little known story.

Our two protagonists, Clara Darden, a noted illustrator, artist and teacher of the period, whose history has been lost to time, and Virginia Clay, recently divorced who has taken a job in the Information Booth at the dilapidated Terminal, tell stories of their different eras, one the late 1920’s and the other the 1970’s. While the stories are years apart, the way women were (are still?) treated in the workplace and in life in general isn’t much different.  Their stories intertwine with the downturn of their work place, the once glamorous GCT, and to my mind’s eye it is a tale of the arts during the Depression, how they survived, their decline in the ‘70’s and the promise of a light at “the end of the tunnel”, telling us that things can, indeed, get better, that beauty and confidence can be restored whether it is a building or a person and how our two women survive.  We follow them through love affairs, betrayed trust, found and lost friendships, power struggles (no matter your social class!), in other words, the real world.  We find the determination of one to find more about the other…the story we want to continue.  Ms. Davis is a master of mixing periods, giving us a story of architecture, New York City’s history and making the past come alive through the structures we come to admire and love

Relationships come and go, grow or die, new jobs, new directions, the promise of talent in many guises, so many life lessons in one work of fiction…I really enjoyed the book…I can’t wait to see what’s next in Ms. Davis’ oeuvre!!!

42nd Street entrance

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A cross section rendering of the building….love this and it relates perfectly to our story

The Great Hall and it’s restored constellations painted vaulted ceiling, it has always been one of my favorite places in NYC.

I try to go to the legendary Oyster Bar as often as I can, love the ambiance, the decor, the delicious good food…..oysters, of course!!!!

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Many a time I walked down this passageway to my train, The Twentieth Century…legendary, what train travel should be!! Oh my, another post…..why not!!!!

Commuting Ramp
Grand Central Station, Manhattan, New York

The catalogue for the Grand Central School of Art, one of the art instructors in the studio.  Opened in 1922 and closed in 1944 reported to have enrolled up to 900 students the year before it closed according to the author’s notes

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The restoration and rededication in 1998 was led by architecture firm Breyer Blinder Platt and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and brought the derelict building back to its glory, preserving it for the ages. This looks like yet another book I need to add to my collection.  I am mad for nostalgia, but you know that!!!

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And then there is this….Sir Paul McCarthy impromptu performance at Grand Central Terminal last week!!!!

All photos from Pinterest photo credits unknown.

THIS POST GENEROUSLY UNDERWRITTEN BY AN ANONYMOUS DONOR. CONTACT ME FOR SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES. 

FASHION EXTRA: RALPH LAUREN THE FIRST 50 YEARS!!!!!

1DD690DB-ACD7-45DD-B0F1-AF07759C35BDI have worn, shown, lived with, admired, Ralph Lauren’s creativity for all those 50 years. The excitement of this extraordinary exuberant extraganza was a once in a lifetime “happening”. From the venue, the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain, to the pre-show reception (and the people watching), to the staging (perfection), to the presentation (featuring a diverse mix of 150 models and more people watching), to the finale (all models on the staircase with Ralph taking his finale bow-wave), to the formal sit down dinner (further people watching and a toast lead by Oprah!), WOW! For those of us not there in person, we have the modern experience of technology and can watch the evening streaming, via video feeds, still photos, the joyous postings, on all social media platforms, and can absorb this perfect event from beginning to end whenever we choose.  All I can say….I can’t wait to see what is in store for us in the ensuing years. Fashion is not dead, long live fashion…Bravo Ralph Lauren Bravo!!!

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The staging.

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Lets take a look at some of my favorites, I can’t show you every run, would love to, you can find many on line sources to show you the entire collection.  Here, then, in no particular order my likes….

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71F04AD1-6716-4EC7-876F-7AA29DC422331E8B957B-9D94-4674-9F86-ACECF1330CEDNotice Chicago’s own, Chance The Rapper (in baseball cap) in the front row.

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9F17458B-C27D-46F3-8135-BC36C04A5468431E9CE3-DD0F-4B12-8210-A05F7DCBDA8CLove Ralph in a typical outfit, tuxedo jacket with distressed jeans, modernity at its best!!! I think this is one of Jeffrey Banks’ fabulous photos of the evening.  See his Facebook postings for a incredible capture of the evening. An aside, Jeffrey was a sketch artist for Ralph back in the day. Two true American creators, long may they wave!!!!

Photos from Pinterest photo credits unknown

 

PROFILE: JEFFREY BANKS–GENTLEMAN CREATOR

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The exciting world of Social Media brought me to Jeffrey Banks.  I have, of course, admired his work forever, first and still as a designer and then and now as an author. I got to Jeffrey through Facebook accounts from our mutual friend, the multi-talented, Michael Vollbracht who I did have the pleasure of knowing and working with…I did a blog post recently just following his untimely death.  I am posting this Profile of Jeffrey, who graciously agree to do my nenasnotes questionnaire, on the day of Michael’s Memorial Service in New York.

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Michael Vollbracht’s delightful work as a student at Parson’s where he won the Norman Norell Award, Mr. Norell was not able to present the award instead it was presented by Bill Blass who became a lifelong friend of Michael’s and who designed the Blass Collection after Mr. Blass’ death.  I bet they are now very busy designing the robes for the angels!

Last week Jeffrey delighted my nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club group, via conference call, with reminiscences of the unsurpassed designer Norman Norell as recounted in Jeffrey’s exquisite book NORELL: Master of American Design. Jeffrey’s books are as well done as his design work, all perfection.

Thank you, Jeffrey Banks, for joining my blogging adventure and for sharing your insight into the world of fashion via your exceptional books…you can be sure I will call upon you to chat again in the very near future to discuss another of your books….let’s see which one shall be next….stay tuned!!

Want to hear more about this unique creator…read on in Jeffrey’s own words……

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WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB
My first job was at age 15 selling Men’s clothing at Britches of Georgetown . I loved it and on my very first day sold more than any of the seasoned professional salesman did combined.
BRIEFLY DESCRIBE YOUR MOST RECENT OCCUPATION
Unfortunately, it seems to be planning memorial services for friends.
WHEN DID YOU DISCOVER YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF YOUR TALENT
I always loved to draw, and at a very young age thought that I might become an artist. That was until I found out that most of the artists that I admired did not achieve success or fame during their lifetimes, so at the tender age of 10 I decided to become a designer. The reasoning being that I would know rather instantly whether the things that I designed had struck a cord with the public….or not!
Baby JB
WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD “MADE IT” 
I think it was the day after the night I won my first Coty Award and I was with my Mother at Bergdorf’s on the up escalator and two guys were going down on the down escalator and I heard them say as we sailed passed …” Oh look, there’s designer, Jeffrey Banks!”
Coty Awards 1982
                                                         Coty Award winner 1982
Mom and I at the Coty Awards September 23rd, 1982
Coty Awards 1982 Cover Invite
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HOW YOUR ORIGINAL PASSION BROUGHT YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW
I feel so lucky that my original passion for fashion has allowed me to make a living, branch out to books, go on television, teach, and meet so many of the people I most admired in the world. I feel very fortunate.
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All in Norman Norell…..Lynn Revson one of the biggest collectors of Norell.
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WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN YOUR ALTERNATE CHOICE AS A CAREER….WAS THERE ONE
There really wasn’t an alternate choice at the time. But, as I love photography so much, I would have to say, Art Director.
YOUR FAVORITE BOOK, MOVIE, THEATER (LEGIT, MUSICALS), BALLET, OPERA, SYMPHONY, TYPE OF MUSIC YOU LIKE TO LISTEN TO, LOCAL RESTAURANT
Favorite Book : A Private View by Irene Mayer Selznick  ( a great read on early Hollywood by Louis B. Mayer’s daughter )
Favorite Movie: Funny Face ( it’s got it all : Fashion, Paris, Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn, Givenchy, Gershwin, Avedon)…who could ask for anything more ? 
Theater: Anything Sondheim !
Ballet: Anything Balanchine !
Opera: Anything Directed by Bartlett Sher
I love show tunes , Streisand, and Adele
My favorite restaurant is Union Square Cafe 
HOME….MODERN, TRADITIONAL, ANTIQUES (WHAT ERA) ECLECTIC
Mostly modern, clean white with some antiques in bleached pine. I work with color all day long so I need an absence of color at home,
WHO WOULD YOU HAVE AT YOUR FANTASY DINNER AND WHAT WOULD YOU SERVE 
Fred Astaire, George Gershwin, Michelle and Barack Obama, Audrey Hepburn and Rob Wolders, Hubert de Givenchy, Bruce Weber, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Jeffrey Banks, Diahann Carroll would be the guests. 
I would serve my Risotto with Carmelized Onions and Figs with a side salad of Heirloom Tomatoes with a Shallot, Dijon Mustard, and Honey Vinaigrette (see recipe below). For Starters: Baked Brie with Honey, Brandy and Walnuts. For dessert, Assorted Gelatos

FAVORITE VACATION SPOT VISITED AND/OR ON YOUR GO TO LIST 
London, is my favorite city after NY and I love Italy, especially Florence, Tuscany and Venice. Love to discover (and re-discover) great museums and try new restaurants.In London, Theater and Shopping is everything for me! 
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY DOING MOST IN YOUR FREE TIME? FAVORITE WORK  OF PUBLIC ART
I LOVE to read (books and magazines ) especially biographies. I love going through The Metropolitan Museum and The Frick Collection here in NY. 

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED
As a kind person, loyal to his friends.
                               THANK YOU AND BRAVO JEFFREY BANKS, BRAVO!
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF JEFFREY BANKS WITH EXCEPTION OF THE BOOK COVERS, TAKEN FROM GOOGLE PHOTOS.
                                              ELEANOR BANKS’ MEATLOAF

Ingredients:

 

1 lb Ground Chuck

1/2 lb Pork Sausage

1 Medium Small Onion (chopped finely)

1/2 Green Pepper  (chopped finely)

2-3 Spines of Celery (chopped finely)

3/4 cup Bread Crumbs

Salt & Pepper to Taste

Celery Salt

2 Cans Hunts Tomato Sauce

Combine all ingredients mix very well with 1 can of tomato sauce.  Shape loaf in lightly greased Pyrex pan.  Take other can of tomato sauce and mix with 1/2 can water and set aside.  Place loaf in pre-heated oven set at 350 degrees for 1/2 hour.  After 1/2 hour reduce heat to 325 and bake loaf for additional 40 minutes.  Pour off excess fat and baste with tomato sauce that was set aside.

              JEFFREY BANKS’ HONEY, SHALLOT, DIJON MUSTARD  VINAIGRETTE

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/8 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons honey

1 large shallot, finely chopped

3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

 



 

BOOK NOTES: THE ROMANOV EMPRESS

D656140D-AC78-4BC6-8863-CCDFB8346F1AI must begin this review by saying I am most certainly not a fan of the current Russian regime, in fact I am appalled by it.  I was fortunate to visit this extraordinary country and meet its gracious people in 2002 (I will do blog posts on the amazing trip in the future) when it was just learning to embrace its new “freedom” from Communism, well, I’m afraid, that was short lived.  Since I’m not a political commentator nor do I like to express negativity in my posts, I shall not bore you with my opinions on how I feel about the Russian government and its involvement in our affairs, but rather turn to the grandeur of the Romanov’s in the 19th century and their ultimate demise.

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Tsarina Maria Feodorovna (Dagmar of Denmark)

I found The Romanov Empress to be a fascinating read from cover to cover.  The detailed research done by C. W. Gortner is extraordinary.  He has, changed some dates and anglicized many of the Russian names, but I felt, having read a lot about the time of Nicholas II and Alexandra and, of course their execution but not much about his parents, he gave us a precise story.  I have always been fascinated by Russian history and by now you are aware of my passion for historical novels….this detailed intriguing story did not disappoint me, in fact it makes me want to find more novels and non-fiction about this period in time. I was aware of the intermarriage of the European royals, but this telling put these marriages in perspective. The world, in all ways, was at a major turning point and now, a century plus years later, is still in turmoil. Can we change our destinies, I doubt it, but shouldn’t we learn from history or are we destined to keep making mistakes!!!!  Oops, seems a bit deep doesn’t it….perhaps Tzarist thinking!  Let’s get to our story….

It is basically a love story of a man and woman who happen to rule Russia and their children and their children’s children.  It is also the story of a very strong woman, “Minnie” (the Tsarina), who was instrumental, to a great extent, in forward thinking of women’s rights as well as preserving, above all else, the Romanov dynasty, which she supported, in all ways, until the very end. We learn about her sister’s marriage to Bertie, The Prince of Wales, Queen Victoria, the Russian court, exquisite descriptions of the social protocol of the time, the fashion, much from Charles Frederick Worth, the art, the jewelry, oh the jewelry, and, of course, the palaces.  And mostly the pride in upholding the centuries of Romanov rule and then seeing this regime destroy itself….so very sad!  Do I recommend the book, yes, yes and yes.
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Tsar Alexander III, Tsarina Maria Feodorovna

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St. Petersburg late 1900’s

I will definitely read more of Gortner’s novels, I’m considering his Mademoiselle Chanel as an upcoming nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club selection

This post is generously underwritten by an anonymous sponsor who is an avid reader. My everlasting gratitude.  Contact me for sponsorship opportunities. 

Photos found on a Pinterest photo credit unknown.

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FASHION NOW: DOLCE & GABBANA ALTA MODA FALL 2018

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Designers who always know how to produce the most extravagant fashion shows… Dolce & Gabbana, didn’t disappoint with their Fall 2018 Alta Moda (high fashion) presentation at Lake Como, Italy. Drama was in abbondanza!  Here are a few of the many looks, filled with the expected floral prints, exquisite accessories and diverse mix of models. Over the top creativity presented in lush surroundings with an operatic soundtrack to create an even more ”Alta Moda” atmosphere!  Designers who don’t shy away from drama in their creations nor controversy in their opinions, lived up to all expectations.

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6982FCBA-BE77-49EF-96B4-C1074C5E1C8CA portion of the finale.

All photos found on Pinterest credits unknown.

FASHION NOW: FALL 2018 HAUTE COUTURE PART 2

Maison Margiela by John Galliano….no, not strange nor laughable…look closely at ALL the detail, the use of accessories, the color mixing, layering. Shoes with tech devices attached.  Are we painting our faces in bold foundation colors, no but to me the statement is color completing a look and we DO paint our faces! One can debate whether Galliano is either a genius or marching to his own inner voice…I am in the genius camp, well maybe both!!!!!

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Perhaps one of the most covered collections, Valentino by Pierpaolo Piccioli, brought a tear to Valentino’s eye as he lead the standing ovation at the finale. Exquisitely crafted gowns in bold solid colors as well as brocades, lames, the perfect black gown, and the “fabric” of the collections, feathers. Head coverings of real flowers in the same bold palettes of the glorious fashions. I am in awe of the extreme bouffant hair, taking us back to Avedon’s “Swans”! A Valentino collection to remember without question.

A refined neutral palette formed the Dior collection as interpreted by Maria Grazia Chiuri.  Saying she wanted to celebrate the House’s heritage, she definitely defined the elegance that is Dior.  The day pieces reflected the essence of the House.  Loved the cape, so useful in Chicago, the sheer tulle in the perfectly constructed youthful  gowns and…feathers. Again may I call your attention to the accessories especially the charming side tilted “beanie”.

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In my opinion, which, after all, is what nenasnotes is all about….my opinion, the resurrection of the House of Schiaparelli just gets better now under the direction of Bertrand Guyon.  The signature Shocking Pink, trompe l’oeil details, a fluff of the obligatory feathers…the excitement that is fashion. Fun, unexpectd twists = a la mode!

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Giambattista Valli one of my favs doesn’t disappoint.  Great day pieces, but he excels with his dramatic gowns, although let’s start rethinking the “high-low” lengths…we’ve seen it, but still….gorgeous! Feathers, you bet, even for shoes.

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What House and Artistic Director could be more in the news than Givenchy and Clare Waight Keller, no one I can think of. All it takes is a major star whether that is M. Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn or Claire Waight Keller and the new Duchess of Sussex. Again a current designer delving into the archives of a master creator….how wrong can you go…..you can’t.

 

Giorgio Armani Prive Couture Fall 2018
Giorgio Armani Prive Couture Fall 2018

Does Giorgio Armani ever go off brand….no, never. Armani Prive has it all.  I really need to find a new word for classic, translates to boring in my current modern minds eye, but until I can replace it let’s use it….perhaps modern classic = always a perfect wardrobe addition. The Fall 2018 Collection is a stunner.  Particularly like the  coat as jacket, I look I have long embraced.

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Haute Couture must always push us, bring us new technologies, fabrications, techniques, the FUTURE, why not….who does it best, Iris van Herpen, her innovations stretch us to see clothing in new ways…that is what it is all about.

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Of course, some of our most creative talents continue to make us think, give us fun, beautifully crafted garments with a bit of tongue in cheek, no one does that better than the dynamic duo Viktor & Rolf!

And there you have it….the glory, that is my edited edition, of Paris Haute Couture Fall 2018. Next up the marathon fashion weeks beginning in New York in September. A good time to read your nenasnotes The Fashion Book August 28th selection NORELL: Master of American Fashion so you will be prepared for our discussion….what you say, you haven’t signed up for the monthly meetings….contact me for all the details and join our fascinating group.

                          All photos from Pinterest photo credits not available. 

FASHION FLASHBACK, FASHION NOW, FASHION ALWAYS: BOB MACKIE

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Courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago, all my inscribed designer photos hung on my office wall and are now house in a the Archives

Cher, Carol Burnett, Barbie all have one thing in common….BOB MACKIE!!!! The king of making every woman glamorous whether they are on stage or wearing something unique for a special night….what a gift he has.  His love for show business, and more importantly, the joy of making all his ladies look beyond amazing is, without a doubt, magnificently on display in the brand new Pre-Broadway production The Cher Show at Chicago’s Oriental Theater through July 15th. A must see!  Saw it loved it, the three Chers are spot on as is Sonny, Greg, et al, and the subject of this post, Bob Mackie, has not only outdone himself with the costumes but, in my opinion, his stage double steals the first act…..just saying… The show brings us back to the beginnings and we realized the talent and the relationship and collaboration between the star performer and the star designer…  bravo.

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A sketch for proposed costumes in The Cher Show.

Bob’s career began in his native California as a sketch artist for Edith Head at
Paramount Studios. His talent for costuming, which began there, is unparalleled
Just think of the excitement, glamour and wit he brought to the weekly live Carol Burnett show. Week after week we would experience his extraordinary costumes
that not only set the tone for the skits but helped create the characters as well.
Can we ever forget the classic “Scarlett O’Hara” skit with the “curtain” gown,
pure Mackie!!! The Carol Burnett Show introduced him to Cher who was appearing as a guest on the show….need I say the rest of that story is show biz and fashion history.

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Bob’s sketch for the classic Miss Scarlett “curtain” dress, it now lives in the Smithsonian collections, where it should be as a part of American history

The first time I saw Sonny and Cher, at the very beginning of their career, they
were totally dressed in hippie garb and looked like “mountain people”, whatever  that means…when they started their variety TV show Cher became a fashion icon, and remains one to this day, again, totally a Mackie collaboration.  The occasion of my seeing these performers was at a Chicago Tribune College Council event held annually at either the Sherman House Hotel or the Morrison Hotel (both demolished long ago).  The Tribune hosted all the Chicago retailers College Boards which were a group of college women that worked in the “college departments” at their stores. Each store “marched” into the ballroom in their specially selected outfits some stores had huge groups (think Marshall Fields and Carson Pirie Scott) and Saks Fifth Avenue usually had 8, in my humble opinion, we were a small group but our ladies looked amazing in their gear!  When this duo went to the stage the audience was stunned, I don’t think many knew who they were….the minute they began I’ve Got You Babe, everyone not only witnessed stars in action but left the room knowing they wanted to hear more and more we have heard through the years.

I had the great pleasure of working with this designing genius on many formal
fashion productions, most of which were presented in the International Ballroom
at the Hilton Hotel. They were always major choreographed shows that were
themed and featured more beading than any Ziegfeld Show. They were beyond
glamorous and the audience not only loved the shows but adored Bob. Saks Fifth
Avenue always had a huge sales result and many of the pieces we sold are now
housed in the Costume Collection at the Chicago History Museum and the Fashion Study Collection at Columbia College Chicago. Before Saks Fifth Avenue did these shows the trunk shows were presented at Kane’s and the Collection was also carried at Stanley Korshak, both stores long gone from the Chicago retail scene while Saks Fifth Avenue remains strong, since 1929, on Michigan Avenue.

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The above photos are Bob doing his finale walk at one of our formal shows, the second, with me, in the Lobby of the Hilton Chicago Ballroom, prior to another show.

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My piece, yes, there are Mackie day pieces….it now lives in the Fashion Study Collection at Columbia College Chicago as are the above photos (alas, not from my wardrobe) all were taken by Tanner Branson at my request.

Bob, being the gracious gentleman he is, agreed to be my date when I co-chaired my second DIFFA gala in 1991, also at the Hilton Chicago, it was a Venice masquerade event, my co-chair, Michael Hasten, brought a Fortuny mask from a visit to Venice for me and Bob sent me a major ball gown to wear….below you see us at the party (I think we look like we are at our prom…a very glamorous one to be sure!)

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The DIFFA ball in 1990 and the Costume Council event, 2015, same faces a few years later…Dennis Minkel, another dear friend, brought the original photo so we could reinterpret it…fun, yes, indeed!

 

 

 

 

The second book we read for the monthly nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club. (Let me know if you are interested in attending and I’ll send you all the details.) We meet the fourth Tuesday of each month (I’m skipping July, next up Jeffrey Bank’s brilliant monograph NORELL in August). I thought an appropriate selection with all the Mackie excitement in Chicago this month.  We had a lively discussed at our June gathering while sipping Haute Couture Bubbles, delish and mini bites.  The attendees had great questions, obviously a book club is all about discussing the book!

The Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum honored Bob with their Designer of Execellence Award at a conversation with Hal Rubenstein and sit-down dinner in April 2015.  Bob, like all our designer guests, viewed some of the treasures in the Costume Collection, and was beyond impressed with the selections he was shown.

I’m with my dear friend, Abra Wilkin, at the Costume Council Award Dinner…both wearing pieces from Abra’s Mackie Collection.  Bob was thrilled to reminisce with Abra about his Chicago visits and the CHM Costume.

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Saks launched the Mackie fragrance and he created a special edition relaunch for gifts for the dinner guests….each signed by Bob…special indeed.  One of the attendees of The Fashion Book Club, Tanner Branson, found this jacket on Etsy it was done as a promotion piece for the fragrance.  I seem rather animated while leading the discussion and showing my DIFFA gown festured in the book.  Photo courtesy of another standee, David Sanchez.

 

Two Mackie pieces that were in the CHM Exhibition Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair.  The gorgeous hot pink feather costume, was in one of  the Mackie formal runway shows I worked on….it was the piece in the exhibition I sponsored.  The other more pure Mackie glam!

It has been my extreme pleasure to have worked with this design genius who really knows how to put the “show” in show business and share his wisdom, talent and joie de vie with his stars and his clients….glamour is most certainly Bob Mackie’s forte.869D7C6B-530D-4270-A573-71F3426E28B4Another iconic genius…Victor Skrebneski, photographer extraordinaire, and my friend of more years than we care to admit, did a brilliant video program for my Fashion Group International Chicago Award in 1990, also at the Hilton Chicago. He asked Bob to send gowns for me to wear for the photo session….a story unto itself…here is one in ink green sequins, an example of Bob Mackie creating a body even if you don’t have one……

Bob, thank you for making my professional life the joy it was and for filling everyone’s lives with glitter, glam and drop dead gorgeous creations all Unmistakably Mackie!

When previewing this post…the photos seem to be off center, can’t seem to be able to correct this problem…..so sorry, I hope you enjoy the copy along with the photos and sketches, any illustrations or photos, not credited, were found on Pinterest and I don’t have photo credits. The two sketches are by Bob Mackie also found on Pinterest